it’s my favorite book of all time. ever.
it’s one of my favorite movies, too. in my top five.
it’s a (north) american classic.
and it’s a must read for all people (even non-americans) because it is a story of universal truths: injustice, racism, ignorance, and prejudice. and while those themes may have different faces all around the world, they are present in every society. this i feel i can say with truthfulness, because i live in a different culture – and i still see injustice, racism, ignorance, & prejudice even here in lovely sweden. of course, the setting of the book is during a specific time (the great depression. the 1920s,1930s) & in a specific place (the american south) in history, but it speaks to us, even today.
i don’t exactly remember the first time i read this book, but i know i was about 14 or 15. it was on the required reading list in school (and it still is in many places). i remember soaking in the words, the scenery, the characters. the tough, tomboy scout. the mysterious neighbor, boo. and the courageous, civil rights activist dad & lawyer, atticus. the belief in justice & equality, the difficult questions raised, the inspiring determination to fight for the rights of all people, the surrender of self for the good of others…. i was completely drawn in. and in many ways, i believe it was a confirmation for my growing teenage beliefs in/questions about equality for all (black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight, foreign, homeless, young, old, disabled, etc.).
i remember that when i first read these words, it was as if i was given permission to think the way that i thought. it was like the words i was taking in were expressing my thoughts, and suddenly i didn’t feel alone. there were others that thought like me, that felt like me. there was at least one other: the author of this book, harper lee. and perhaps my teacher, mrs. trail (since she had us read this book, even if it was on the required reading list). then i realized that perhaps my parents thought this way too, since i was raised my them & having these thoughts myself. and then there’s religion. i had been taught some about Jesus, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Martin Kuther King, Jr… certainly all of these people believed in justice, fairness, love, and equality too. all of these names & people stood for the themes in this book. this was ground-breaking for me. i was not alone. not at all alone, in fact. and some of the most amazing people i had read about, studied, and met believed in the same things. and that gave me hope. that gave me strength to not give up on who i was becoming, even if i seemed different & felt like an outcast to my fellow classmates (which i was & i did).
over the years (as i have read this book again & again), of course, i have realized that there are many who do not believe in these truths. or they say that they do, but their actions speak differently. as i grew & matured and became an adult, my rose-colored glasses became cloudy and dark. yet, the realization of the reality of the world only served to give me more energy & passion. i wanted to fight even harder the injustices and the inequalities in the world. with each passing year (even up to today) i wanted inspire the belief in the love, respect, and acceptance of all people. and the joy of being able to teach (yes, i was a teacher in my former life) from this book gave me an opportunity to pass along these truths & beliefs to a new generation. i’ve used this book in my classroom & in my churches. i’ll talk about it with anyone. oh, how i hope that i am doing just a little bit to spread the message that to kill a mockingbird sends to the world…
the reason that i’m writing about this today is because this past week the movie has celebrated 50 years on film. i want to celebrate the book & the movie, and i want to encourage any of you who have not read this book or seen the movie (read the book first! hehe), to do so. the main character, atticus (a single dad) is played by gregory peck (an amazing actor!), who tapped into the character in ways that i cannot describe with words. he became atticus. he, alone, makes the movie sensational. (if you want to read more about the movie/book click here)
picture from the daily beast.
as a tribute to the 50th anniversary, gregory peck’s wife released a copy of his script, with his personal notes in the margins, along with the anniversary dvd package cool!). on the last page of the script, the script reads:
“We can see Atticus sitting through the window, sitting by his son’s (Jem’s) bed holding Scout. Camera slowly pulls back as Atticus looks at the sleeping Jem.
underneath, in bold script, gregory peck has written four words:
“Fairness. Stubborness. Courage. Love.”
enough said. read the book. watch the movie. spread the message. do it!